I guess this is how bigots and cowards like to do their dirty work - in the dark of night, with many abstaining out of cowardice.
The vote over Tracy Thorne-Begland’s nomination as judge to the Richmond General District Courts ran late into Tuesday morning. At 1:13 a.m. , Del. Jennifer McClellan (D – Richmond) announced lawmakers voted down Begland’s nomination 33-31 with 10 abstentions. He needed 51 votes.For reaction to this appalling rejection of a judicial nominee -- who, as the press release by Equality Virginia describes, "has served his country and his city with honor and unquestioned competence first as a Navy pilot and then as a prosecutor" -- see after the "flip" (bolding added by me for emphasis).
Del. Bob Marshall (R -Manassas) wanted Thorne-Begland, who is openly gay, removed from consideration because of the prosecutor’s past involvement with the gay rights movement, most notably his network interview about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”
“I don’t even think it’s proper to put his name forward because of his behavior,” said Marshall, who called Thorne-Begland “a homosexual activist,” in a press release.
“Equality Virginia is profoundly disappointed and dismayed that the Virginia General Assembly allowed fear mongering and shrill personal attacks by the Family Foundation and Delegate Bob Marshall to derail Richmond lawyer Tracy Thorne-Begland’s election to the bench simply because he is an out gay man.On his Facebook page, openly gay Virginia State Senator Adam Ebbin writes: "Back from Richmond. Still angry at excuses for homophobia and ignorance used to derail Tracy Thorne-Begland's election to be General District Court Judge."
Mr. Thorne-Begland has served his country and his city with honor and unquestioned competence first as a Navy pilot and then as a prosecutor. Contrary to the Family Foundation’s shrill attack, the fact that Mr. Thorne-Begland chose to acknowledge his sexual orientation publicly and accept the consequences (an unwanted discharge from the military) rather than continue to live each day in a lie showed his honesty and integrity and respect for the law.
Mr. Thorne-Begland should be seen as a hero, like others whose celebrated civil disobedience helped bring change to unjust laws, rather than vilified as a law breaker by those who continue without reason to oppose basic human rights and nondiscrimination laws for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Virginians.
The fact that the legislature caved in to the Family Foundation’s biased blathering is another unfortunate marker on the forced march to the past on which they seem determined to lead the Commonwealth.”
On Del. Scott Surovell's Facebook page, he writes: "House just rejected the election of Tracy Thorn-Begland to the General District Court because he's gay - fear & ignorance run this place."
On her Facebook pageDel. Charnielle Herring writes:
In the wake of the events of the early morning hours, here is my statement on what happens when the family foundation chooses to attack a judicial candidate because of his sexual orientationOn her Facebook page, Del. Jennifer McClellan writes:
"In the history of our country sometimes a person has to stand up for fairness and equality, even when what they speak against is a policy of the very government that allows a discriminatory injustice to exist. Today a man who has served his country in the military and served the Commonwealth as a prosecutor was denied the opportunity to serve Virginia as a judge because he spoke the truth, told America he was gay, and in the process spoke truth to power. I am incensed by our failure to appoint Tracy Thorne-Begland to the General District Court of Virginia's 13th Circuit. Virginia lost an opportunity to have this excellent lawyer on the bench. Upon reflection, I am forced to say that in a time where we have talked about a War on Women perhaps we should be talking about a Republican war on equality. It is a sad day for Virginians who believe in equality."
Charniele Herring, Virginia House Minority Whip (D-46)
Tracy Thorne-Begland is a respected prosecutor and member of the Richmond community. He’s a father of two children, veteran and respected attorney in one of the most active jurisdictions in the Commonwealth. The fact that he has not been confirmed today is politics at its worst. More than 20 years ago, he spoke out because he thought it was wrong for soldiers to have to lie about who they are while fighting and dying for their country. He spoke out because it was right, even in the face of certain retribution for his action. And, in the intervening years, he has successfully raised a family and become a respected colleague to prosecutors and judges. He deserves to be on the General District Court and we should all be ashamed of today’s decision to reject his appointment.On her Facebook page, VA ACLU Director Claire Guthrie Gastanaga writes:
Today, the legislature underscored the reality in which all GLBT Virginians live ... they are second class citizens who can and are denied the right to serve the public, work at jobs they love, marry the people they love and raise their children in loving two parent homes simply because of who they are. This is wrong, and there is no way to dress it up as anything but what it is, immoral and unconscionable intolerance in violation of our constitution's guarantee of equal protection under the law.UPDATE: Virginia's top 31 House Homophobes (all Republicans of course) are: Anderson; Richard P. Bell; Robert B. Bell; Byron; Cline; Cole; Cosgrove; J.A. Cox; Dudenhefer ; Edmunds; Fariss; Garrett; Greason; Helsel; Hodges; Hugo; Iaquinto; Knight; Lingamfelter; Danny Marshall; Bob Marshall; Massie; Merricks; Morefield; Pogge; Poindexter; Ramadan; Robinson; Villanueva; Watson; Wilt
UPDATE #2: Leading up to the vote last night, the rabidly right-wing, frothing-at-the-mouth homophobic Family Foundation issued the following statement:
It has come to our attention that one of the individuals that will be voted on by the General Assembly Monday as a nominee for a judgeship, Tracy Thorne-Begland, has a long history of political activism, has been at the forefront of repealing the federal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” (DADT) policy and once served as a Board Member and Vice Chairman for Equality Virginia, the Commonwealth’s largest and most influential homosexual activism group. In fact, this nominee for Richmond’s 13th General District Court was with President Obama when he signed the repeal of DADT. Additionally, Mr. Thorne-Begland has lashed out, publicly, against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli on a host of issues related to the homosexual agenda, saying, “He’s already stood in the way” in relation to Cuccinelli’s urging of public colleges and universities to follow state law when it comes to non-discrimination policies. Thorne-Begland also criticized Cuccinelli for being “against hate crime laws” and “employment discrimination” protections based on sexual behavior.UPDATE #3: The following statement is from Sen. Donald McEachin:
One statement he made in 2004 in particular stands out. In an interview with Richmond Magazine, Thorne-Begland said, “In Virginia, we’re seeing a different situation. The situation is so hostile to gay and lesbian interests, particularly the judicial system, a lot of gay and lesbians choose to leave.” It’s the “particularly the judicial system” statement that is especially concerning. Does he plan to use his position as a judge to accomplish his political agenda?
In 2004, Mr. Thorne-Begland was asked his opinion of the Marriage Affirmation Act, a law that was the model for Virginia’s marriage amendment, and Virginia’s climate toward homosexuals. Mr. Thorne-Begland signaled his optimism and said, “Perfect example: Virginia is the only state in the union that allows businesses to decide whether they can offer health care to gays and lesbians. When progressive representatives in the legislature sought to require businesses to extend domestic-partner benefits, laws are adopted that outright coerce Virginians to accept this way of thinking.” Mr. Thorne-Begland’s thoughts regarding the use of coercion to change minds and force private businesses to follow his agenda flies directly in the face of free market political principles.
Statement by Senator Donald McEachin on GA's Failure to Appoint Tracy Thorne-BeglandUPDATE #4: Democratic Virginia Senators speak out: "The GOP took Virginia back to the bigotry and mean-spirited prejudice of the 1960s. I thought we had made more progress toward a just society than this."
RICHMOND, VA - Today, Senator Donald McEachin (D-Henrico) made the following statement on the General Assembly's failure to appoint Tracy Thorne-Begland to the Richmond District Court.
"Tracy Thorne-Begland is a highly qualified and exceptionally competent prosecutor, who also served our country with honor as a Navy pilot. The blatant prejudice that Republicans displayed last night should have no place in our government. The GOP took Virginia back to the bigotry and mean-spirited prejudice of the 1960s. I thought we had made more progress toward a just society than this.
"The only criteria legislators should apply when selecting judges are that person's ability to fairly and impartially weigh the law. Mr. Thorne-Begland's qualifications for appointment to the bench were unimpeachable, but Republicans cynically voted against his appointment just because he was gay," said Senator McEachin.
UPDATE #5: Del. Eileen Filler-Corn weighs in on her Facebook page:
Check out my status update EARLY this morning. After 1 am and after 13 hours of Session, the House voted against this qualified candidate for Richmond General District Judge. Please read this article. Such a sad commentary on humanity and a pathetic end to a tough session...UPDATE #6: ProgressVA says "We can't let this travesty go unchallenged" and asks us to sign their petition here, telling Virginia legislators, "Intolerance has no place in the Virginia House of Delegates."
Intolerance....This debate about whether we confirm a good qualified person as a judge adds the perfect cherry on top of a General Assembly session known for misguided social legislation.